Glossary of Hunting Terms

Bait and Baiting

  • Bait: Any feed or edible enticement or a non-edible facsimile designed to attract wildlife. Specific bait restrictions for bear can be found in the detailed rules.
  • Baiting: The act of placing or exposing bait to attract or entice wildlife to an area where hunters aim to take them. An area remains "baited" for 10 days after the bait has been removed.

Game Definitions

  • Big Game: Includes black bear, deer, wild turkey, and wild boar.
  • Small Game: Encompasses all game and furbearing animals and game birds, except those classified as big game.

Equipment and Techniques

  • Bow: A longbow, recurve bow, or compound bow that is hand-drawn, hand-held, and maintained at full draw without mechanical assistance. Triggering devices or release aids are permitted.
  • Crossbow: A device with a bow mounted on a stock, using a trigger mechanism to release the string and propel a bolt.
  • Modified Bow: A bow modified to hold at full draw to accommodate a user's physical impairment.

Hunting Concepts

  • Concurrent Hunting: The practice of hunting the same and/or different species during legally prescribed seasons.
  • Hunt: The act of chasing, catching, or taking wild birds or animals.
  • Edible Portion of Big Game: Defined as one or more of the following: the meat of the front quarters to the knee, the meat of the hind-quarters to the hock, or the meat along the backbone between the front and hind quarters. For wild turkey, the edible portion is the breast meat only.

Legal and Ethical Definitions

  • Licensed Adult: An individual 18 years or older with a valid West Virginia hunting and trapping license or who is exempt from licensing.
  • Life-threatening Condition: A terminal condition or illness with a high likelihood of death within two years, even with treatment.
  • Possession Limit: The total game in any way under the hunter's control, including that in a car, truck, home freezer, or any other storage place.
  • Protected: Wildlife with no open season; hunting these species at any time is illegal.
  • Resident and Nonresident: Defined based on domicile and duration of stay in West Virginia. Special considerations are given to military members and students.

Land Ownership and Rights

  • Private Lands: Lands owned by individuals, partnerships, heirships, clubs, organizations, or companies, excluding those classified as public land.
  • Public Lands: Lands owned, leased, or managed under a cooperative agreement with the WVDNR for wildlife management purposes.
  • Resident Landowner Privileges: Specific rights applying to West Virginia residents who own land in the state, including their resident children and parents, or resident tenants when hunting or trapping on their own land.

Prohibitions and Legal Constraints on Hunting

Understanding the legalities of hunting is essential to both protect the environment and ensure hunter safety. This section outlines the key prohibitions and legal requirements hunters must follow.

State Park and Private Property Restrictions

  • State Park Hunting: Hunting is typically prohibited in state parks, with some designated exceptions. It's vital to consult specific park regulations before planning a hunt.
  • Private Land: Hunting on fenced, enclosed, purple paint marked, or posted lands without written landowner permission is illegal. Hunters must carry written permission to avoid trespassing violations.

Firearms and Hunting Equipment Regulations

  • Firearm Handling: Transporting an uncased or loaded firearm in state woods, parks, forests, wildlife management areas, or rail trails is illegal outside of open firearms hunting seasons. Note that hunting unprotected species in allowed areas is permissible during open seasons.
  • Automatic Firearms Prohibition: Fully automatic firearms are not permitted for hunting.
  • Small Game Restrictions: Specific counties prohibit small game hunting during the initial days of the buck firearms season. However, exceptions exist for waterfowl, bear, and coyotes under certain conditions.
  • Night Hunting and Electronic Calls: Hunting deer, bear, or boar from 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise is prohibited, as is hunting with electronic calls.
  • Simultaneous Weapon Possession: It is illegal to be afield with both a gun or air rifle and bow, or a gun or air rifle and any arrow, with specific exceptions for self-defense purposes.
  • Air Rifle Caliber: Small game cannot be hunted with an air rifle of less than .22 caliber.
  • Shooting Over Roads: It's illegal to shoot an arrow across public highways or discharge any firearm across or on public roads.
  • Modified Bows: A special permit is required to hunt or fish with a modified bow.
  • Proximity to Vehicles: Hunters must be at least 25 yards away from a motor vehicle when shooting a bow, crossbow, firearm, or air rifle along public roads.
  • Visibility and Ethical Hunting: Shooting at any wild bird or animal is prohibited unless it is plainly visible. It's illegal to shoot deer or boar while in water.
  • Remote Hunting: Conducting hunts for a fee without being physically present with the wildlife in West Virginia is prohibited.
  • Den Hunting: Smoking wildlife from its den or place of refuge is not allowed except as specified by law or regulation.
  • Artificial Light and Night Vision: The use of any artificial light or night vision technology is banned while hunting, with specific exceptions for coyote, fox, raccoon, skunk, and opossum.

Safety and Ethical Considerations

  • Proximity to Protected Areas: Discharging firearms within 500 feet of schools, churches, dwellings, or near parks is prohibited, with certain exceptions for residents or guests of dwellings under specific conditions.
  • Intoxication: Hunting under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances, or drugs is strictly illegal and poses serious safety risks.
  • Wastage of Game: Allowing any edible portion of big game to go to waste needlessly is not just unethical but illegal. Specific rules govern the removal of parts of the game under unavoidable circumstances.
  • Big Game Removal: Hunters are forbidden from detaching only specific parts of big game carcasses and leaving the rest to waste.

Age and Supervision Requirements

  • Youth Hunting: Individuals under 15 must be accompanied by a licensed adult at least 18 years old, who can provide immediate advice and assistance. Exceptions are noted for youth seasons.

Prohibited Practices

  • Aerial Hunting and Drones: Hunting from aircraft, drones, or any unmanned vehicle is illegal. The same applies to using these technologies to herd or harass wildlife.
  • Use of Explosives and Chemicals: Employing poisons, chemicals, or explosives for hunting is strictly forbidden.
  • Ammunition Restrictions: There are specific regulations on the size of shot and type of ammunition allowed for different game and seasons.
  • Night Hunting: Hunting big game with certain firearms is prohibited between 1/2 hour after sunset and 1/2 hour before sunrise.
  • Waste and Carcass Disposal: Hunters must not waste edible portions of big game and are prohibited from dumping animal carcasses along public roads or properties.
  • Baiting and Feeding: Baiting or feeding wildlife on public land is banned at all times.

WV GameCheck: Big Game Registration Process

For effective wildlife management and legal compliance, West Virginia mandates all hunters to register their big game harvests. The WV GameCheck system is streamlined to make the process efficient. Here's how you can fulfill your legal obligation after a successful hunt.

Electronic Game Checking Options

  • Online Registration: Visit for a direct and easy way to register your game. Ensure you have internet access and your details ready.
  • License Agent: Visit an authorized license agent equipped to assist you in game checking. It's a reliable alternative if you prefer in-person assistance.
  • Telecheck System: Call 844-WVcheck (844-982-4325) for a guided, step-by-step process to register your game over the phone. Ensure a quiet environment for clear communication.

Essential Information for GameCheck

  • DNR ID Number: Your unique DNR ID number is required for all types of game registration. It's a lifetime number assigned to you for all your hunting and fishing needs in West Virginia.
  • Game Species: The system requires specific information about the game, including species like deer, beaver, otter, fisher, and bobcat.

Preparation Tips

  • Update Personal Information: Ensure that your DNR ID account has the most current information, including contact details and password. Do this well before you head out to hunt.
  • Familiarity with Process: Familiarize yourself with the GameCheck process for a smooth experience. Knowing the steps in advance can save time and effort post-hunt.

Air Rifle Hunting Regulations

Air rifles offer an alternative hunting method for both small and big game during designated seasons. If you're considering hunting with an air rifle in West Virginia, understanding the specific regulations is essential for legal and ethical hunting. Here's what you need to know:

Permissible Use and Season Alignment

  • Lawful Hunting: Any person who is legally allowed to hunt may use an air rifle during small game and big game firearm seasons.
  • County Restrictions: Air rifles for deer hunting are permissible only in counties where firearm deer hunting is allowed. It's crucial to check the local regulations for specific county restrictions.
  • Seasonal Information: Detailed information about individual seasons for deer, bear, turkey, and wild boar is available in the respective sections. Familiarize yourself with these details for a successful and lawful hunting experience.

Compliance with Firearm Regulations

  • General Firearm Rules: While using an air rifle, hunters are subject to all the general rifle and firearm hunting regulations. This includes understanding and adhering to safety measures, ethical hunting practices, and specific rules about shooting near dwellings or public spaces.
  • Specific Regulations: For comprehensive guidelines, refer to the rifle and firearm hunting regulations detailed on page 3 of the hunting regulations document or visit the official West Virginia Division of Natural Resources website.

Archery and Crossbow Hunting Regulations

Archery and crossbow hunting are popular methods for hunting various game in West Virginia. However, specific regulations govern their use to ensure safety and ethical hunting practices. Here are the critical rules and requirements for hunters using bows and crossbows:

Licensing and Permits

  • Nonresident Licensing: Nonresident bow and crossbow hunters, except holders of Class DT licenses, need a Class EE license along with Class CS/LE and DS stamps, or a Class EE-L license to hunt bear.
  • Bow Fishing License: Both residents and nonresidents require a valid fishing license for bow fishing.
  • Firearm Season Substitution: Bows may replace firearms in any legal firearms season except muzzleloader deer season. Crossbows may substitute for firearms in big game firearms seasons with the same exception and additional county-specific restrictions.

Crossbow Specifications and Usage

  • Minimum Requirements: A legal hunting crossbow must have a minimum draw weight of 125 pounds, a working safety, and use bolts/arrows at least 16 inches long (including insert and nock) with broadheads at least 3/4-inch wide.
  • Prohibited Practices: It's illegal to use crossbows with more than one string, arrows with explosive or poisoned tips, or broadheads not meeting size and sharpness requirements. Additionally, locking devices holding bows at full draw are prohibited unless a modified bow permit is issued.

Restrictions and Prohibitions

  • Weapon Combination: Having a gun and a bow afield together is illegal except for carrying a firearm for self-defense by those legally permitted to possess firearms.
  • Hunting Restrictions: Hunting with a crossbow is banned in Logan, McDowell, Mingo, or Wyoming counties unless possessing a Class Y/YY permit for physically challenged individuals.
  • Game Restrictions: Certain restrictions apply when hunting wild turkey, bear, deer, or boar with specific broadhead requirements.
  • Area Limitations: Bow hunting is not allowed in state parks (with some designated exceptions), Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, safety zones on state forests, wildlife management areas, and specific wildlife refuges.
  • Dog Usage: Using dogs while bow hunting for black bear is generally prohibited except during the bear firearms season in counties where it's legal.

Ethical Considerations and Safety

  • Broadhead and Arrow Standards: Arrows must have broadheads with at least two sharp-cutting edges measuring at least 3/4-inch wide to ensure a humane and effective harvest.
  • No Air Bow Hunting: Hunting with an air bow is prohibited at all times in West Virginia.

Tagging and Transporting Regulations

Tagging and transporting wildlife are critical components of ethical hunting and conservation management. In West Virginia, specific regulations ensure that all harvested game is accounted for and transported legally. Here are the essential guidelines for tagging and transporting game:

Tagging Requirements

  • Detailed Information: Any harvested game must be tagged with the hunter's signature, address, date of kill, hunting license number (if required), and game tag number (if applicable).
  • Species and Quantity: The tag must clearly specify the species and quantity of the wildlife taken.
  • Refer to Specific Sections: For detailed tagging requirements, hunters should refer to the specific sections for deer, bear, wild turkey, wild boar, and trapping in the hunting regulations.

Transporting Rules

  • Possession of Wildlife: No person may transport or possess wildlife that was killed by another hunter unless accompanied by the proper paper tag.
  • Tag Visibility: The tag accompanying the wildlife must be legibly filled out and visible during transportation.

Handgun Hunting Laws and Regulations

In West Virginia, the use of handguns for hunting is permitted under specific guidelines to ensure safety and legal compliance. Here are the key laws and regulations you need to know if you plan to hunt with a handgun:

General Carrying and Eligibility

  • Firearm Possession: Individuals not prohibited by state or federal law may carry a firearm for self-defense.
  • Age Requirement: Class A-1 or Class A-1-L stamp eligibility is restricted to individuals 18 years old or older.

Hunting with Handguns

  • Barrel Length: Only revolvers or pistols with a barrel length of at least 4 inches are legal for hunting.
  • Visibility While Hunting: When hunting, the revolver or pistol must be carried outside the outer clothing, unconcealed, and in an easily visible place.
  • Seasonal Restrictions: Handguns may be used only during established hunting seasons. For deer hunting during muzzleloader season, only single-shot muzzleloading pistols of .38 caliber or larger are legal.
  • Groundhog Hunting: It is legal to hunt groundhogs in open fields with a revolver or pistol.

Prohibited Practices and Restrictions

  • Migratory Game Birds: Hunting migratory game birds with a pistol is illegal.
  • Night Hunting: Hunting with a revolver or pistol larger than .22 caliber centerfire is prohibited between 1/2 hour after sunset and 1/2 hour before sunrise.
  • Minimum Caliber and Cartridge Requirements: When hunting bear, deer, or wild boar, the handgun must not use a straight-walled case smaller than .357 magnum cartridge or a bottle-necked case smaller than .24 caliber. Additionally, muzzleloading pistols must be at least .38 caliber for these species.

Apprentice Hunting and Trapping Licenses

West Virginia offers an opportunity for individuals interested in hunting and trapping to begin their journey even before completing a hunter education course. Here are the details regarding the Apprentice Hunting and Trapping Licenses:

Types of Apprentice Licenses

  • Class AH and AHJ: These are designated for apprentice hunters.
  • Class AAH and AAHJ: These are designated for apprentice trappers.

Eligibility and Purchase

  • First-Time Hunters/Trappers: The Apprentice License is specifically for individuals who have never held a base hunting license and wish to try hunting or trapping.
  • Purchase Locations: These licenses can be purchased at any license agent or online at Refer to page 45 of the hunting regulations for more details.

Requirements and Restrictions

  • No Prior License: Individuals who have previously held a base hunting license are not eligible to purchase an Apprentice License.
  • Supervision Requirement: An apprentice hunter or trapper must be accompanied and directly supervised by a licensed adult hunter or trapper.
  • Documentation and Stamps: Apprentices must possess all other required documentation and stamps while hunting or trapping.

License Fees and Further Information

  • Fees: License fees and additional details can be found on pages 45-46 of the hunting regulations document.

When Licenses or Permits are not Required

In West Virginia, certain individuals are exempt from the requirement to hold a hunting or trapping license under specific conditions during the open seasons. Here are the categories and circumstances where a license or permit is not necessary:

1. Resident Landowners

  • Family and Tenants: Resident landowners, their resident children or parents, or resident tenants can hunt or trap on their land without a license.

2. Disabled Veterans and Former POWs

  • Special Privileges: Residents honorably discharged from the U.S. armed forces with total permanent service-connected disabilities or former prisoners of war may obtain a Disabled Veterans and Former Prisoner of War License (Class V).
  • Additional Stamps: For privileges contained within Class N, RB, RG, RM, and/or A-1, relevant stamps must be purchased separately.

3. Ohio River Reciprocity

  • Waterfowl Hunting: Ohio residents with valid Ohio hunting licenses and West Virginia residents with valid West Virginia licenses may hunt waterfowl on the Ohio River and respective embayments without obtaining the neighboring state's license, subject to specific regulations.

4. Senior Residents and Youth

  • Seniors: Residents aged 65 or older by Jan. 1, 2012, can hunt or trap without a license but must carry a West Virginia driver’s license or photo ID.
  • Youth: Residents under 15 may hunt without a license when accompanied by a licensed adult.

5. Active Duty Military

  • Military Leave: West Virginia residents on active duty in the U.S. armed forces can hunt or trap without a license while on military leave, provided they carry their leave papers.

6. Field Trials

  • Exemption: Participants in field trials permitted by the Director do not need a hunting license.

7. Migratory Waterfowl Stamp

  • Youth Exemption: Persons under 16 years of age are not required to have a migratory waterfowl stamp.

Mandatory Hunter Education and Identification

Understanding the Law

As of January 1, 1975, a base hunting license is mandatory for individuals born on or after this date, with specific exemptions noted for Apprentice Hunting and Trapping Licenses. To acquire a license, one must either present a certificate of completion from a Hunter Education Course approved by the Hunter Education Association or the Director, the previous year's West Virginia hunting license with certification, or provide online attestation of certification.

License Requirements Before and After the 15th Birthday

Individuals purchasing a lifetime hunting license before age 15 must complete a certified hunter education course prior to hunting. However, they may use their lifetime hunting license akin to an apprentice license by hunting alongside a licensed adult until they fulfill the hunter education requirement.

Carrying Essentials While Hunting

Legally, hunters must carry the following items when hunting:

  • Proper licenses, stamps, or permits, or other proofs of a validly issued license.
  • A state-issued photo ID.
  • Proof of hunter safety certification (if required).

Lost Hunter Education Cards

In the event of a lost hunter education card, hunters can obtain a duplicate from their local DNR District Law Enforcement Office for a fee of $10. Applications for duplicate cards are available at license agents or through the official WV DNR website.

Finding Hunter Education Classes

For individuals seeking hunter education classes, information is available through the WVDNR District Office pertinent to the county of residence. Alternatively, resources and class searches can be found at or by visiting the official WV DNR website.

Leashed Dogs in Tracking Game

Legalities and Regulations

In the realm of hunting, employing leashed dogs for the specific task of tracking and locating mortally wounded deer, bear, wild turkey, or wild boar is legal. The hunter may also enlist a dog handler to assist with the tracking. Both the hunter and the handler must maintain physical control of the leashed dogs throughout the process to ensure compliance and safety.

Licensing and Hunting Considerations

Utilizing dogs for tracking is classified as hunting, subjecting both the hunter and the handler to all related laws and regulations. They must possess a valid hunting license or be exempt from the licensing requirements as detailed in the official hunting guide. All aspects of the hunt, including the use of dogs for tracking, must adhere to the stipulated guidelines to maintain the legal and ethical integrity of the hunting practice.

Accompanying and Engagement Rules

The hunter is required to accompany the dog handler during the tracking process unless physically incapacitated. In such cases, the dog tracker may dispatch the mortally wounded game. However, it is crucial to note that any game taken counts towards the hunter's bag limit, emphasizing the importance of accurate tracking and reporting.

Commercial Tracking

For those providing dog tracking services for a profit, a formal license as an outfitter or guide is mandatory. This ensures that all parties involved in the hunting and tracking process are qualified, responsible, and adhere to the established standards of wildlife management and ethical hunting.

Guidelines for Dog Training in Hunting

Firearms and Equipment Regulations

During the closed seasons on wild animals and birds, individuals training dogs are not allowed to carry firearms or any other implement for taking wildlife, except for self-defense purposes. This exception is only applicable if the individual is legally permitted to possess firearms under state or federal law. All participants in dog training activities must hold a valid hunting license, ensuring they are familiar with and adhere to wildlife management regulations.

Trespassing and Property Damage Concerns

It's important to note that a person training a dog isn't automatically guilty of hunting without permission if their dog enters another person's land without their directive, provided that no game is taken, and no damage is done to livestock, domestic animals, or property. However, retrieving dogs from another's land requires the landowner's explicit permission, emphasizing the need for communication and respect for private property.

Identification and Ownership

Tampering with a dog's identification, such as removing tags, collars, or radio transmitting devices, is prohibited unless it's necessary for the dog's well-being, or if performed by a law enforcement officer in the line of duty. This rule ensures dogs are safely managed and returned to their rightful owners if lost or separated during training sessions.

Training Permissions and Restrictions

Residents have the privilege of training dogs and conducting field trials on both public lands and private lands (with written permission from the landowner) throughout the year. However, training dogs on deer or wild turkey is strictly forbidden to prevent distress or harm to these species. Nonresidents may train dogs during open small game hunting seasons and, with certain reciprocal arrangements, may train on raccoons from mid-August to the end of February. Specific regulations regarding bear dog training and additional details can be found in the official hunting guide.

Special Permits for Bird Dog Training

For those interested in training dogs specifically on birds, a special permit is required for training on pigeons or commercially pen-raised quail on private land outside of the regular season, particularly if the training involves killing the birds. This ensures that bird dog training is conducted responsibly and in accordance with conservation principles.

Reporting Wildlife Law Violations

Immediate Action and Contact Information

When witnessing a violation of natural resources law, immediate action can be critical. If the violation is in progress and presents an urgent situation, dial 911 for emergency services. For non-emergency situations or after the incident has occurred, contact the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) District Law Enforcement Office during normal operating hours. Alternatively, violations can be reported online at the official DNR website or via their Facebook page.

Steps for Reporting

  1. Document the Incident: Safely observe and document all pertinent details of the violation, including the nature of the offense, descriptions of individuals involved, location, time, and any other relevant information.
  2. Avoid Direct Confrontation: Do not approach or confront the violator. Personal safety and avoiding escalation are paramount.
  3. Promptly Contact Authorities: Reach out to a local Natural Resources Police Officer or the county communication center as soon as possible with the information collected. The efficiency and effectiveness of law enforcement response depend on the timeliness and accuracy of your report.

Community Involvement

Protecting natural resources is a communal responsibility. Engaging in vigilant reporting and being willing to testify in court if necessary are essential aspects of safeguarding wildlife and the environment. By being proactive and involved, individuals contribute to the preservation of natural heritage and ensure the continued enjoyment of outdoor sports and activities for future generations.

Understanding the Point System for Hunting Violations

Severe Violations and License Revocation

Negligent shooting incidents involving humans or livestock result in an immediate and serious consequence: a five-year revocation of hunting licenses. This strict penalty reflects the severity of such actions and underscores the importance of safety and responsibility in hunting practices.

Specific Violations and Point Assignments

The point system is designed to track and penalize less severe but still significant violations in a cumulative manner. Here are the specifics:

  • 10 Points: Using a spotlight with firearms or other implements, or illegally killing a bear. This is considered one of the most serious violations short of negligent shooting.
  • 6 Points: Illegal possession or sale of wildlife, illegally killing deer, wild boar, or turkey, or hunting from a motor vehicle. These actions directly contravene conservation efforts and hunting regulations.
  • 4 Points: All other hunting violations that don't fall into more severe categories but still represent a breach of legal and ethical hunting practices.

Accumulation and Consequences of Points

When an individual accumulates 10 or more hunting and/or fishing violation points, they face a two-year revocation of all licenses. This system ensures that repeated or severe violations lead to significant consequences, discouraging unlawful behavior and encouraging adherence to regulations.

Reinstatement and License Restoration

Points are removed on the second anniversary of their assignment or upon the restoration of the license, whichever comes first. This allows for individuals to eventually return to hunting and fishing activities, provided they adhere to laws and regulations post-reinstatement.

National Forests and Wildlife Management

Cooperative Management

National Forests are managed under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Forest Service, ensuring that these natural resources are preserved, protected, and utilized in a sustainable manner. This partnership is crucial for maintaining the ecological balance and providing recreational opportunities while conserving wildlife habitats.

Private Lands and Permissions

Within National Forests, especially those designated as Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), there are interspersed private lands. It is mandatory to obtain written permission from the landowners before engaging in any hunting, fishing, or trapping activities on these private parcels. This respect for private property rights ensures ethical and lawful use of the land.

Rules and Regulations

Each National Forest has its own set of rules and regulations applicable to the WMA areas. These rules are designed to protect the environment, ensure the safety of all forest users, and preserve the quality of recreational activities. To stay informed and compliant, individuals should directly contact the National Forest where they plan to hunt, fish, or trap for the most current and relevant information.

Contacting National Forests

For specific rules, regulations, or any other queries, individuals can contact the respective National Forests:

  • George Washington and Jefferson National Forests:

    • Address: 5162 Valleypointe Parkway, Roanoke, VA 24019
    • Phone: (540) 265-5100
    • Toll-Free: 1-888-265-0019
    • Website:
  • Monongahela National Forest:

    • Address: 200 Sycamore Street, Elkins, WV 26241
    • Voice and TDD: (304) 636-1800
    • Website:

National Wildlife Refuges: Access and Regulations

Requirement for a Hunting Permit

To hunt in National Wildlife Refuges within West Virginia, individuals are required to obtain a free refuge hunting permit. This permit is essential for ensuring that all hunters are informed of and comply with the specific rules and regulations designed to protect wildlife and their habitats in these sensitive areas.

Obtaining Permits and Information

To obtain the necessary permits and detailed information regarding hunting and fishing regulations, individuals should contact the appropriate National Wildlife Refuge. Each refuge may have its own specific set of rules, permissible hunting seasons, and other relevant guidelines.

Contacting West Virginia National Wildlife Refuges

For those interested in hunting or fishing in the National Wildlife Refuges of West Virginia, below are the contact details for obtaining permits and further information:

Hunting on National Park Service Lands

Distinctions between National Preserve and Park

Hunting is allowed on the New River Gorge National Preserve, providing opportunities for hunters to engage in the sport within regulated areas. However, hunting is strictly prohibited on New River Gorge National Park, reflecting the Park's role in preserving natural landscapes and wildlife without hunting pressures. Trapping follows a similar regulatory pattern; it is not permitted on New River Gorge National Park and Preserve but is allowed on Gauley River National Recreation Area.

Regulations and Restrictions

Hunters and trappers must comply with the following guidelines:

  • Licenses and Stamps: All individuals must possess the proper licenses and stamps as required by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR).
  • Observance of No Hunting Areas: Safety zones, private property, and any designated no hunting areas within the National Park Service lands must be respected.
  • Tree Stands: Tree stands must not be left for more than 24 hours. Any left beyond this period will be removed to maintain the natural state of the environment.
  • Prohibitions: Feeding and baiting wildlife, as well as the use of ATVs/UTVs, are not allowed on any property managed by the National Park Service. These rules are in place to protect wildlife and preserve the natural environment.

Respecting Private Land

It's important to note that within these national areas, numerous private properties exist. Hunters and visitors must respect private landowners' rights and ensure they do not inadvertently trespass or engage in hunting activities on these lands.

Administrative Headquarters

For more detailed information, regulations, or inquiries, individuals can contact the managing offices:

  • Glen Jean Headquarters

    • Address: P.O. Box 246, Glen Jean, WV 25846
    • Phone: (304) 465-0508
  • New River Gorge National Park and Preserve: Hunting Information

  • Gauley River National Recreation Area: Official Website

Hunting and Trapping in Wildlife Management Areas and State Forests

General Regulations

Hunting and trapping on state-owned and leased lands generally follow the same rules as adjacent private lands, with specific exceptions and additional guidelines to ensure the preservation and ethical use of these public resources.

Specific Rules and Regulations

  1. Trapping Permit: Required for all areas, available from the District Wildlife Biologist.
  2. Baiting and Feeding Wildlife: Illegal on public land at any time.
  3. Special Rules Areas: Certain Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) and State Forests, such as Beech Fork Lake, Bluestone Lake, and others, have special rules. Refer to the designated pages in the official hunting guide for detailed regulations.
  4. Camping: Allowed only in designated areas with a required permit and fee. Regulations are posted at each area for reference.
  5. Vehicle Use: The use of ATVs, snowmobiles, and similar vehicles is prohibited. Harassing or chasing wildlife with vehicles or creating a nuisance through continuous cruising is also prohibited. The maximum speed limit is 30 miles per hour unless otherwise posted.
  6. Class Q Hunting Access: Available on some WMAs, providing hunting opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Contact the District Wildlife Biologist or check online for more information.
  7. Tree Stands: Only portable tree stands may be used on public lands to minimize environmental impact.
  8. Target Practice: Permitted only on designated public shooting ranges.
  9. Bikes and E-bikes: Allowed on roads open to public vehicular travel and on specifically designated roads.
Wild Advisor Pro


The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.